Africa…you do know that’s the continent you live in, right? That’s a ludicrous question, you chuckle in your mind. Well, not if you asked a Ghanaian teenager to name one of the countries that border Ghana and they blurt out…DUBAI! True story: happened in a session I was moderating. Out of the 7 continents there are in the world, Africa is the second largest, and has the youngest population. Africa is made up of 55 countries divided into Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western and Central sub-groups.
Why am I talking about African countries? It’s Africa Day on May 25 (that’s next Wednesday); a day set aside by the African Union to commemorate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The name of the organisation later became African Union on July 7, 2002, during a meeting of African heads in Durban, South Africa. The point of this union of African nations is to encourage more cooperation and integration of African countries to improve Africa’s growth and economic development.
The AU comprises of 55 member-countries within the Central, Eastern, Western and Northern parts of the continent.
In Central Africa there are 9 member-countries namely Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Fourteen member-countries make up Eastern Africa: Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Sahrawi Republic and Tunisia are the 7 member-countries from Northern Africa.
Southern Africa member-countries number ten and include Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Western Africa (where Ghana is located) has fifteen member-countries which are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
So now that we have covered the names of the countries within the AU, shall we consider some fun facts about Africa that you will find useful (later on in life, I promise!)
- Africa is the second largest continent on Earth…whoa!! Africa occupies a total area of 30.37million square kilometres, making up for 5.7 percent of the earth’s surface, and 20 percent of the total surface of land on our planet.
- It is estimated that about 1,500 to 2,000 languages are spoken with different dialects among the (about) 3,000 distinct ethnic tribes on the continent. The most widely spoken official languages are English, Arabic, Swahili and French.
- The Nile River, being the longest in the world (about 6,853 kilometres long) passes through 11 African countries. Check out information about the Nile crocodiles (my personal fascinating fact).
- The world’s largest and hottest desert – the Sahara Desert- is in Africa. The Sahara also has one of the harshest environments on the planet. At 9.4million square kilometres, it’s bigger than the entire USA, for instance! The desert, like the Nile River, spans 11 African countries.
- The largest island in the African continent is Madagascar. With a length of around 1,609kilometres and a width of around 563 kilometres. Madagascar is also the 4th largest island in the world.
- The richest man ever known in history was African. Mansa Musa, or Musa I of Mali, is regarded one of the richest men ever. Musa was the tenth emperor of the Mali Empire, one of the prosperous Sahelian kingdoms that developed along the Saharan slave trade routes in the later medieval period. At the time of his death, his net worth estimates were placed in the range of US$300billion to US$400billion in adjusted dollars (reflective of the late 2000s).
- Africa boasts of being home to world’s largest, fastest and tallest animals in the world. The African elephant is the world’s largest land animal, they are enormous and can stand up to about13 feet tall. The world’s tallest animal is the giraffe. Male giraffes can reach close to 20 feet in height, while females can reach about 15 feet. The fastest land animal in the world is the cheetah which lives in Africa. It runs at around 65 kilometres per hour.
Africa has tonnes of fascinating facts and as African youth, you really must know them and more importantly, experience some of them. You must want to travel across the length and breadth of this intriguing continent of ours. Kwame Nkrumah (you should know who he is) once said: “I am African not because I was born in Africa, but because Africa was born in me.” Chew.on.that during this year’s Africa Day commemoration…